I had been back in the shop for a few mornings in a row, helping my father with the orders that needed to be done before Christmas. They had hired a guy from town in my absence, he was a design major at university in Stockholm and on his time out he was using his brain and staying near home to save money – while earning carving and delivering with my family. His name was Adam and he was a chilled out kind of guy, I assumed he was high a lot of the time, but for the most part he stayed out of the way and did his job, I knew why my grandfather had kept him on then. He didn’t like useless people under his feet.
“There’s this and two stools that match for the Gotland address, she wants it shipped before Christmas.”
I nodded knowing with all the extra hands on board we would get it done, no problems.
“Have you talked of children?” My dad asked as we finished varnishing a bench for shipping in a couple of days. “You and Sookie?”
“Some… not a lot but some.”
“There will be children, one day.”
“But just not one day soon?”
“No, not soon I do not think… it would be just too soon we both agreed on that.”
He nodded seemingly okay but I knew both he and my mother longed for grandchildren, but I would like at least both my parents to meet my wife before she became the other of their grandchildren. I knew Sookie and I were unconventional in our beginnings, but children would be something we took our time with for sure.
“I’d like you to meet her in person first, it would be nice.” They were never really ones for Skype either so she had yet to meet my father. Jonas Nordmon got his stubborn streak from his mother, that’s for sure.
“I think I would like to go to there someday soon, to America. See what all your fascination was about, maybe see some sunshine.”
The minus twenty degrees Celsius weather outside sure had me missing the balmy Autumn I experienced in Louisiana.
“I would love that, I am sure Sookie would love it too. She seems to like to make big fusses of people with her cooking.”
“She a good cook?”
She was at some things, at others not so much. I would never admit that though, particularly not to her. Nevertheless, I was the same, there were things I could cook and others I just couldn’t, we would hopefully learn together soon.
“I look well fed do I not?”
He just laughed.
“You know your mother worries…”
“I understand you are a grown man, who has his own life and can take care of himself and his new wife…, but you’re still my son and of course I worry too. Less than her because I have a fathers faith in you, I always have… even when you were just a teen and running off to sea like a loon instead of to the cities with the others.”
“I’m still not much of a city guy.”
“No, I know.” He smiled.
“What’s it like there? I know your friends asked the other night at the dinner party, but really, do you like it? The people are they nice? Is there potential for work?”
“For the most part the people are welcoming, especially people in Sookie’s life, they are good, decent people. But the locals… I think like any locals are weary of strangers moving in… particularly when they’re ‘foreign’ and marrying one of their girls. Sookie is thought highly of in her community, I like that she has a good name for herself, it means we can have a good family name in the future.”
Even though the idea of children appealed to me, I knew it was too soon, but it still sat nicely with me that my wife was a respectable woman with respect for not only herself and her family but for everyone she met.
“It is nice you think of such things for children that don’t exist yet.”
“Well I think of nice things.” I said full of sarcasm, it wasn’t that I spent a lot of time fixating on what other people thought of me, for the most part I didn’t care. However, as my father said I was grown, but growing up was a whole other ballgame, I did not want to make it harder on any kids we had than it would be already.
Growing up sucked.
“You want to go ice fishing tomorrow?”
I did, it was my new favourite thing to do with my dad now. It was weird; somehow, leaving Sweden had brought us closer together, it was as if when I was younger it was as if he didn’t know how to relate to me, but now that I was married and grown, he did.
“I am happy that you’re happy… your mother is too, even if she can’t say it out loud and to your face like I can. She is… a complicated woman.”
“But you love her, right.”
“God knows I do, and at times I think only he knows why.” He smiled, with that my grandfather came in, announcing that dinner was ready and we had to shut up shop if we wanted to walk back to the house to eat, the snow was starting to drift.
He drove over in the truck but teased us about not giving us a lift home, having to run and jump on the back of the truck in sideways flying snow – never fun. My grandfather had a sick sense of humour!
“I just do not know if I could do it.” Elin said as we sat in the bar and had some drinks, and peanuts there was always peanuts. “Being so far… it must be hell.”
“It would be less so if people would stop pointing it out…” I sighed and she just grimaced. We were waiting on the crew, there was a friendly game on TV soon and the bar had it on a big screen with two for one deals on drinks – of course we would be there.
“What made her the one? I’ve always wondered, I mean it didn’t work with any of us local girls… and we know you tried just about every one of us.” She sassed making me roll my eyes. “And we had fun, we had lots of fun you and I… particularly by the lake that summer…”
“But you didn’t love us… or at least I know for sure you didn’t love me. But her, her you fell for right away it seems. At first, I thought it was because she was American and that was your kink…and that it would wear off and you’d eventually come to your senses and come home. But now, well I mean you really love her.”
I looked at her strangely then.
“Of course I love her.”
“Hey don’t shoot me, I just figured that it was… you know a fling with a novelty that would… eventually wear off. But I see now that you’re really committed, it’s nice.”
“You sound a little bitter.”
“That you seemed to have met your soul mate who came from another continent and swept you off your feet in a matter of days? You could say I’m a little bitter, but not because I don’t have you, because I don’t have someone like Sookie to do the sweeping.”
I took a long slug of my beer before I continued.
“You’re wrong, I did love you… I loved all the women I was with but I just wasn’t in love with you… not like I am with her and before I didn’t know if there was a difference and I could ‘make it’ happen if I didn’t feel it like I knew I should. Until I met her I was okay with faking it.”
“And now not so much?”
“Not so much now, no. I may have only known her some months but what I feel and what I know she feels, it’s real. Sure, it’s scary and new and there is lots of anxiety and we fight and we argue like normal people, but we love more so it balances out… it’s real life and I can’t fake real life anymore.”
And that’s what it was for me, it was about realising, like my father did, that I was a grown up and that I didn’t have to fake my happiness anymore, because with her and because of her and the man she made me want to be, I was happy.
I never wanted to lose that.
Having had Tara’s book package for a few days the night I finally gave in and gave them a whirl was the night my life changed, I saw things in those books that I wasn’t even sure a vagina could do never mind do and have it be fun! 365 sex positions with a post-it note from Tara about having ‘something good in every day…’ The Karma Sutra was eye opening to say the least, positions so descriptive I found myself blushing slightly, even though the only soul in the room with me was Sam, and he didn’t care what I was reading. Other books included ‘how to make love like a porn star’ and the title of that alone scared me a little so it went to the bottom of the pile, before that there seemed to be much more helpful titles, like ‘The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Good Sex’ which seemed much more my speed. I did not tell Erik about my night-time reading, but instead listened to his stories over my laptop screen, as he sat on the edge of his bed with his beanie hat still on and wind-blown look on his red cheeks. He was happy to be back home of course, seeing his friends, being with his folks and grandparents but as the days wore on and it got closer and closer to the holidays we were both feeling the pinch of being without the other.
“It is funny, this time last year I did not know of you and now this time this year I feel as if I have to known you all of my life time.”
I smiled at his words, because it was only too true.
“So what have you been doing, I miss our nights together.” He asked with a dorky smile as he sipped his tea, I knew it was tea because he told me he felt a little girly adding lemon to it but didn’t care enough to stop.
I glanced at the pile of books by my bedside table and smiled.
“Oh, you know, just some light reading… dealing with Sam. Dealing with work then just hanging out with the girls for the most part, all very boring really.”
I had told him about Bill after the run-in happened, he just rolled his eyes and told me how lucky I was to have had the smarts not to be sucked into that, I agreed with him. I still had to cater their wedding flowers though and that meant seeing him, seeing them. Erik admitted with a devilish smile that he could not wait to meet the man that had talked down to his wife in such a way.
I decided it was not wrong at all by how turned on that little detail made me.
“OH! I almost forgot to tell you! Tara? She dumped JB.”
“Really? That’s sad.”
“I guess, but I mean if she wasn’t happy and I’m guessing he wasn’t either… but!” I got overly excited as I was sitting crossed legged on my bed, making him laugh. “But guess who she’s seeing or sort of seeing or wanting to see…” I made him guess and he shrugged for a second but then his eyes widened.
“Pam!” We said in unison before we laughed.
“Yes!” I admitted. “I swear when she said I was a little shocked, Pam … even when Tara was more into women, she was never her type. Tara was always the Alpha. With Pam…”
“That would be a dynamical change, but is it something you could see happening?”
It was my turn then to shrug.
“I think so. I mean, maybe? I like Pam, she is good people and if she is happy and Tara’s happy… I say go for it? I guess you just never know where the tide takes you.”
“Nope. For sure. The tide took you all the way from Louisiana to North Sweden, which was very strong tides.” He smiled and I agreed. We talked for about a half hour more before we said our goodnights, I was tucked up in bed with Sam by my side – much to Erik’s chagrin, but he kissed the screen before I did the same as cheesy as it was we didn’t care, and we shut down our virtual conversation for another night.
I went to sleep with all manner of new sexual positions floating around in my brain to try when we got back together and woke up the next morning as I did every morning, obsessively checking the post for his approval so that I could ensure that happened sooner rather than later.
After work I came home, I had noticed a police car outside and ordinarily would have assumed something had gone wrong in the neighbourhood but this was Jason and I knew he had just let himself in, how I didn’t know until I got in myself.
Gran was with him.
“Hi everyone.” I said coming in, trying to balance my grocery bags in one arm and open the front door with another. Gran had my emergency key, and I had hers, not that she ever really locked her doors mind you.
“Hi darling, have a good day at work? I hope you don’t mind us just letting ourselves in?”
I minded a little but I knew the only thing Gran would be looking for was dust and the only thing Jason would be raiding would be my fridge, which was empty so he had a beer in hand instead.
“No, it’s fine, what’s up?”
“Nothing, we just wanted to check in, see how you were holding up?”
“Gran, no one died, and I just saw you yesterday…” I sassed before putting my bags down on the kitchen counter.
“I know honey, but I worry is all, with Erik gone…”
“I’m fine. I was just doing a little Christmas shopping for everyone; thankfully, I left those bags in the car. You two want to stay for dinner?”
They looked at each other before Jason answered.
“What you making?”
“Well, I was going to just order pizza, but since I have human company, I could make a chilli, I bought some fresh and I have all the things we’d need? Since it is a little chilly out, how bout some in?” I smiled attempting to keep my humour up in front of them, truth was, I was miserable.
They agreed to stay for dinner, and I was glad of the noise about the house again, it was funny going without it for long you’d think I’d just revert back, but after having hurricane Erik around it was just too hard to be in silence now. I was chopping the onions when the conversation drifted back to him again.
“It must be just so hard honey, first Christmas as a married couple and he’s not here.”
I sighed, trying to keep myself in check.
“No, it’s fine, I mean millions of people do it right? Long distance, or those poor military wives they do it all the time… I’m fine, really I’m fine.”
“Jason, she’s ‘fine’.” Gran said, complete with finger quote. I just shook it off.
“No, really…” I focused back on my onions then, “if they can do it, we can do it. I mean would it have been nice for him to be here? Of course it would, it would have been great, but he can’t be here because the United States Government likes to take it’s sweet ass time in processing these things so he has to stay out of the country. And now, because it’s the holidays, and everyone is with their husbands and wives and girlfriends and whatnot it’s probably going to take weeks more, and into the New Year, and it’s not just my first Christmas with him but without him, but my New Year too!” By that point, I had lost my composure, and I was sobbing to myself.
“I’m fine, really, it’s the onions.”
I lied. I big fat lied.
“We’ve been Skyping which is nice now that his town has Wi-Fi, it’s nice…” I sniffled.
I got a hug from behind from Gran and a pat on the shoulder from Jason, which just made things that much more worse.
“Well, honey, Jason and I might have something to turn that frown upside down.”
I wiped my tears with my sleeve because you know, I was classy like that.
“Gran, I really don’t think a chocolate milk float is gonna cut it right now.”
As was my go-to treat as a kid whenever I was upset, how I did not end up a thousand pounds, I will never know.
“Not that. How about we give you your Christmas present a little early, huh?”
If it was anything like the scarf and gloves like last year, I would really rather not. We lived in Louisiana, when was I ever going to need those?!
I looked at both of them and Jason had an envelope in his hands.
“Merry Christmas, Sis.”
I was confused, but took it anyway.
My eyes widened when I saw what it was.
“We are serious, honey. Happy Christmas.” Gran hugged me but I think I was still in shock.
“Wait, no, Gran this is far too expensive. I know it’s too expensive I priced every flight I could trying to find one under a grand and they didn’t exist.”
“Almost two!” Jason piped up.
“This is insane, you guys, seriously?!”
Gran smiled, big and wide, and Jason’s stance and face mirrored hers.
“We’ve seen how miserable you’ve been without him, and as much as we’ll miss you, we know you’ll miss him more, so you leave here on the twenty third and come back on the second of January.
There they were two plane tickets. One from here to London with a connection to Sweden, and one return, I could not believe it.
“But it’s too much.”
“It’s not.” Gran assured me.
“But, no, it is you can’t afford this.” I said to her, because I knew her finances, at least a little and the new roof the year before had hit her savings bad.
“I can, besides Jason and I halved them so it really is from both of us.”
I started jumping up and down as I realised what was really going to happen!
“Oh my God I’m so excited, this is real, really! I’m so just so!” I said bouncing making them both laugh. “Shit, my onions.”
Yeah they were burned.
I didn’t care.
“Guys! Seriously! I …”
“Well maybe go tell him?” Gran suggested, scooting in to start chopping some new onions.
“Yes! Yes I’ll do that!” I said running out of the kitchen, reaching the living room and changing my mind. “Unless I don’t do that.”
Jason was now picking at the nachos.
“Why wouldn’t you do that? Gran why wouldn’t she do that, ain’t that what we did this for?”
“Wait no, what if I don’t tell him… and maybe surprise him instead?!”
They both looked at me as if I was crazy, but I had the idea and I did not want to change it.
Yep. I was going to really make our Christmas and surprise the hell out of him all in one swoop, I could not wait and I would finally get to use all those scarves and glove Gran bought me!